Eight of the 26 Vermont communities that will be asking their residents at Town Meeting if they want to allow retail marijuana sales are in the Northeast Kingdom.

That’s according to the Vermont Growers Association - a non-profit cannabis advocacy group.

St. Johnsbury, Lyndon, Danville, Peacham, Sutton, Newport City, Barton and Browington all have marijuana sales questions on their town meeting ballots.

“All this means is that the voters have a chance to decide whether they want to see cannabis sold on a retail level in St. Johnsbury, or not,” said St. Johnsbury Selectman Tim Angell. “So it will be purely up to them.”

Under the state’s new marijuana legalization law, retail pot shops can be opened in communities as long as they are approved by the voters.

The Lyndon Select Board opted to add the question to the town meeting warning in December of 2020 following a citizen request.

Lyndon officials said they decided to put the question on the ballot themselves instead requiring a citizen petition so they could include language developed in conjunction with the town’s legal counsel.

“It’s more efficient,” said Lyndon select board member Nancy Blankenship. “It also words it the way we want it.”

The St. Johnsbury Select Board first said the cannabis question would have to driven by citizen petition.

But in February the board changed it’s mind citing complications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the circulation of a community petition.

“I don’t feel, especially with the circumstances going on with COVID-19, we can really prevent this from being on the ballot out of fairness,” said St. Johnsbury Selectman Brendan Hughes. “If it was a normal year we would ask them to go out and get the signatures.”

A citizen petition in St. Johnsbury would require about 350 signatures to get the question on the ballot.

The St. Johnsbury board was also presented with the option of asking the voters whether they wanted to authorize so-called “integrated licenses” - which would allow for marijuana cultivators, wholesalers, product manufacturers and testing laboratories to operate in town.

But the consensus seemed to be a slower, simpler start.

“My personal preference is I would prefer to start out with just the retailers,” said St. Johnsbury Selectman Kevin Oddy.

The other Vermont communities who have put the marijuana question of their Town Meeting ballots include Berlin, Bennington, Brandon, Brattleboro, Burlington, Danby, Duxbury, Middlebury, Montpelier, Pawlet, Pownal, Randolph, Richmond, Salisbury, Strafford, Waitsfield, Waterbury and Winooski.

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